108 A Theft*
Aaron, Tank and three other sailors from The Miranda by the names of Yates, Peter and Kite, spread out over the Peony district as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon. Being so far from the Token District, Aaron had only managed to search a few of the more well-known establishments there. Now that he had the lead the Captain had given him, he realised his mistake. He shouldn't been looking in those places that were less frequented, or at the very least more well-received by unsavoury characters. Considering the fire was deliberately lit he probably should have thought of that in the first place, but he'd underestimated how careful Ewan would be.
Entering one of the inns by the dock, Aaron avoided the stares and murmurs as he approached the innkeeper.
"Hello, I was wondering if I could have a couple of minutes of your time to ask a few questions?"
The Innkeeper frowned at the coins Aaron placed on the bar top, then glanced up at Aaron again. Aaron sighed, he was going to go through a lot of coins unless he found the right place quickly.
He placed an additional three silver coins on top of the five already there, then the Innkeeper's expression relaxed a little.
"How can I help?"
"I'm sure you've heard about the warehouse fire in the Token District a week ago, my questions will be about the night it happened," Aaron said, the Innkeeper nodded, "Did anyone suspicious come in that night and purchase at least twenty bottles of an alcohol stored in brown glass?"
The Innkeeper frowned, shaking his head, "Twenty bottles is quite an amount, I would have remembered such a transaction".
Aaron sighed, "Have you heard of anywhere else making that transaction?"
The Innkeeper shook his head, "Not on this street".
Aaron sighed. Tapping the bar top, "Alright, thanks for your time".
He turned around and left, the Innkeeper swiping the coins off of the counter and pocketing them.
Aaron visited several more inns and taverns before he came to the end of the section he'd been assigned. He moved to the main square where he'd agreed to meet up with the others, hoping they'd found something in his place.
It was said that Peony had been the first district of Port Lovolon. The then town had busied itself crafting all kinds of herbal medicines, particularly one made from the peony flower that grew on he western continents. That medicine had helped to stop the spread of a deadly plague at the time. While it was not what it used to be in terms of business and liveliness, Peony still stuck to its roots. It had several herb and medicine greenhouses and dealt in the trade of many more from the other continents. The original Peony had been split into five sections, four to make up the main town, and the fifth was the dock. Even so, the main square stood at the centre of the town, with a direct main street from the dock all the way to the north of the city at the top of the hill behind Port Lovolon. It was a spectacular sight to stand at the top of the street and look all the way down to the docks, even at night, with all the lanterns lit it was often seen as a romantic destination. However, the sea fog had set in as the night had come tonight, the winter chill dimming the usual spirit of the main square and street.
Tank was already waiting when Aaron arrived, a simple shake of his head was another disappointment for Aaron. After waiting for another hour, Yates and Kite had returned, and finally, Peter jogged over to them.
"Anything?" asked Aaron.
"Nothing," Peter said, "Not even a whiff".
Aaron sighed, disappointed, "The Captain's tip-off said it was Peony".
"Maybe they lied," Yates said, "I mean, it's a long way from Peony to Token, it would have taken nearly an hour to walk there, perhaps more being weighed down by all those bottles".
Aaron doubted it. The Captain had seen so sure, and it was hard to lie to a man like Jeremiah Token. He stood for a moment, thinking as the others discussed their lack of findings.
"...urgh, enough of this, let's just head back to the Captain with the bad news," Tank grumbled. The others agreed and turned to walk away, only to pause when they realised Aaron wasn't following.
"Aaron?" asked Kite.
Aaron's gaze had turned to the docks, where a warehouse could clearly be seen on the side of the street despite the fog.
"What if they didn't buy the bottles?" asked Aaron, "I mean, if they were up to no good as the Captain said they appeared, why would they buy that many bottles, even if it was from a tavern full of people like themselves? I mean, any one of them would have easily spilled the beans for a few coins".
"Well, yeah," Peter said, "But where else would you find that many bottles?"
"The same place you find any large amounts of alcohol in brown glass bottles," Aaron said, he pointed at the warehouse, "In a warehouse".
The group of sailors turned their eyes to the warehouse. Tank grinned, "You mean to say that it wasn't alcohol meant for drinking".
Aaron nodded, "Only one way to find out".
Tank planted a hand on the top of Aaron's head ruffling his hair, "I like the way you think kid".
Aaron frowned, sighing as he fixed his hair and jogged after the others. In the end, he was still a cabinboy.
The group arrived at the Peony warehouses and began scouring them, asking the guards if anything had been stolen. The Guards were reluctant to talk though, so it took some more persuasion to let the group inspect the warehouse stock lists. They even had to call the Dock Master, who was none too impressed by the summoning.
Eventually, after an hour of searchin in the dark with only flickering torches to light the way, they found that one of the warehouses had missing medical-use alcohol, and a few of the wooden boards at one of the back corners had been conveniently loosened and moved.
From a nearby rooftop, a pair of dark eyes watched their progress with a cold expression. When they'd located the warehouse, the pair of eyes narrowed despite the happy faces of the sailors. They'd located the source, not the culprit, there wasn't much to celebrate there.
The figure on the rooftop turned away and disappeared into the night.
Just like to drop this note here to thank my readers for their continuous support. Read through all of your comments today and was made quite happy by the majority of the responses. I also think that I tend to lose readers between chapter 20 and 35 where the story turns significantly darker. Understandable, though I was a little disappointed by the abuse in some of the comments, whether directed at me or my work. If you don't like it, you don't like it, no need to be so toxic. I by no means think I will be able to stop those people from leaving those comments and reviews, but would just like to let them know that their comments are but a drop in a vast ocean, lost as soon as they join the whole...
With that said I'll see you all next week!